Phone: (831) 425-0519

Parent Child Program

Parent-Child Program

Our Parent-Child program is a wonderful way to introduce your young child to the classroom experience and for parents to learn more about the rich developmental approach of Waldorf education. The home-like atmosphere of the program is calming and enriching for both the young children and the attending parents or caregivers.

Classes include parent-child interactive games, child observation, craft activities, creative play and a wholesome and nourishing snack. The focus of the program is to enhance parents’ understanding of child development and to offer ideas for activities that can be done at home.

Click Here to register for Parent-Child Classes




Conversations With SCWS Parent-Child Educators

Text developed from interviews by Hailey-Villa Brightman


Jeanne Feeney

Jeanne Feeney

Why take a Parent-Child Class?– Jeanne Feeney

I owe so much of who I became as a parent to a Waldorf parent-child class I attended many years ago.  I want to share what I learned there to inspire and support families in our community here at the Santa Cruz Waldorf School.

It was during that parent-child program that I discovered that what the very young love the most is coming to know the world by watching and imitating what their parents are doing. “How do I get fed? How do we bathe? Where do the clothes go and how do they get here? How do we feed the dog, or water the garden?” and on and on. Babies and young children love life, they arrive in the world curious about being here. They want to know concretely how things work and how the simple things in life happen.  The class showed me that the very young don’t need to be entertained with screens and electronics, they quite naturally hunger for human interaction, for authentic sensory experience. I learned that to be with your baby is mostly allowing your baby to be one.

What we hope to offer parents who attend this program is a way to become aware of the developmental needs of the very young child which can easily happen with the home as the “classroom”. Caring for children and other family members quite simply involves caring for the life of the home. Daily tasks such as cooking, cleaning, and playing are activities that can attract and engage children while we parents also get these important tasks accomplished. The class can be a model for life at home with a very young child that is neither chaotic or dull, but actually joyous, straightforward and joyous.

Another reason to enroll in a parent-child class is that it’s a perfect opportunity to get to know other families who are are on the same journey. The class can serve as a refuge, akin to going to Grandmother’s house: a loving, warm place where there is not only a comforting atmosphere, but also a reassuring practical rhythm.  Best of all, someone else is overseeing the play area and supplying plenty of age-appropriate toys, as well as planning and preparing  and serving wholesome food (and cleaning up!).


Here’s a little bit about me: When my first child was born, I was used to being with people my own age and, while I had babysitting and camp counselor experience, I soon realized that being a mother was radically different. Like many new parents, I felt that being at home was boring and that I should fill the days with trips to the zoo or the science museum or swimming classes. I worried that my two year-old needed sensory input from the world outside, “What if she gets bored and her brain doesn’t develop properly? Shouldn’t I be teaching her something–the numbers, the names of colors, the alphabet?”

Nor did I ever pay much attention to the domestic side of life before becoming a parent. I have always been outgoing and very active — I am a dancer, choreographer, and movement therapist. Mundane tasks like preparing meals, sweeping the floor, and tending a garden were never a priority. Moreover, I didn’t have an innate sense of a daily or a weekly routine in the home. I was a child of the 60s and 70s and valued my independence and spontaneity. But when you have children you begin to see the necessity of planning how to spend your days, how to navigate naps and bedtimes, not to mention how to get meals to the table, get the dishes done, and the laundry folded.

The teachers in that Parent-Child class showed me how to use the rhythm of the day and the rituals of housekeeping in ways that could be engaging and beautiful for a little one, as well as a relief to a sometimes-overwhelmed parent.  In the class, we adults shared the “work” of helping with snack or a craft, and keeping an eye on the children. The class provided a model for what I could set up in my own way at home. Before coming to the class, it hadn’t occurred to me that developing a plan for the days and weeks could actually make my life–and my child’s life– easier. I learned that with a little forethought laundry could happen on the same day every week, and that we could decide to always make pasta on Wednesdays or vegetable soup on Sundays.

Justine’s father and I gradually introduced a regular nap for her, and a regular dinnertime, and a bedtime routine. What a relief to be able to fall into a schedule so I knew that we would have time for ourselves in the evenings. Justine used to be a challenge to get dressed in the morning which could potentially derail the entire day.  But one morning I tried singing a little song the parent-child teacher had taught us while getting the clothes from the dresser, and Justine chimed in and the song helped us to work together to get her dressed.

I learned that even on days when I was working outside the home I could create routines and rituals around breakfast and dinner, bath and bedtime, weekend chores. When children know what to expect, they better adapt to transitions from one activity to the next because they are familiar with it, and are more likely to enjoy participating in the life of their family.


HVB: How do you feel that the Parent-Child class supports preparing the children for PreK and Kindergarten?

JF: The Parent Child class is a taste of the essence of what happens in a fuller way in the next two programs at our school which is preschool and kindergarten. In Parent Child, a child is introduced to many social experiences with other children and families such as: How to take my turn and see what is sharing all about? How can I help? And of course, how do I play on my own and how do I play with others?

To support these beginnings, we open each class with a circle of song and movement. We gather together to warmly greet one another and create an opening to our shared time. The children listen and experience the gentle slowing down of the usual hustle and bustle of the morning.  They have the chance to imitate the songs and their accompanying motions, learning them with their parents through their repetition each week. Ultimately, the transition to moving onto to school without a parent is a natural transition.

HVB: What can parents look forward to when joining the Parent-Child classes at the Santa Cruz Waldorf School?

JF: Everyone gets to meet one another as a community. There are parent evenings and orientations without the children, where parents can talk about bigger issues  such as child development, the world within play, discipline, about saying no, as well as sleep, weaning and potty training. I found it fascinating then and I think parents will, too.

Parents today have an unprecedented challenge of managing devices and screens in our homes and the lives of young children. I want to help parents navigate this very new landscape, and encourage them to be thoughtful about the ways in which their very young children connect with technology on a daily basis.

In our program, there is always time for unstructured play for the children both inside the classroom and outside in the play garden. During this time parents sit together quietly enjoying a cup of tea and work on a simple craft. The children observe this mood of concentration and focus. The whole classroom takes on a sense of calm and purposefulness. The children are inspired to do what for them is full of creativity, which is play. The parents, you see, have set the mood for play to occur. Children sometimes need help in accessing their creative place inside but they don’t have to be taught how to play. This then stays and grows within them throughout life whole life as an ever deepening well.
Ultimately, we are trying to cultivate the body, soul, heart and the spirit of the child. It’s like tending a garden, this garden being your child’s unique gifts and capacities, all here in seed form. Everything that they can be is then recognized and given a place to take hold and grow. Giving birth to them continues, as children are also a kind of present that continues to open and change. Our first job together in class begins with noticing these things with the tiny child and see for yourself how it resonates.


Jeanne Feeney is a graduate of Sophia’s Hearth, a Waldorf early childhood training program in Keene, NH to work with families with children from birth to three. In 2008, she was invited to collaborate on the design and implementation of the first Parent-Infant and Parent-Toddler programs for the Washington Waldorf School in Bethesda, MD. Jeanne taught in that program and also inaugurated the 2 year old drop-off classes (for children without their parents) until moving to Santa Cruz, CA in 2013. A master practitioner of the somatic movement and healing modality, Body-Mind Centering ®, she works with adults and children using gentle hands-on techniques and exercises to lessen pain and promote well-being. Jeanne’s children, now in their early 20s, both attended the Washington Waldorf School.




Griselda Pineda

A Cultural Journey with Waldorf Education – Griselda Pineda

I found Waldorf Education many years ago before I had children. I was working for an organization, Family Health Education, in Santa Cruz with Spanish speaking families. I was looking through the Good Times magazine for programs for parents and children when I saw an ad for the May Faire Festival at the Santa Cruz Waldorf School. I decided to go, and right away I felt like I was home. All of the toys were made of wood and everything smelled so good. The campus was settled amongst the forest. Right then, I said to myself, if I ever become a mommy, this is where I want my kids to go!

Since I have become a parent, all of my children have gone to the Santa Cruz Waldorf from kindergarten through the eighth grade.

When I began reading lectures by Rudolf Steiner, specifically in Anthroposophy In Everyday life,  I recognized the similarities to my childhood in this book.  I am Hispanic and grew up in Mexico. As we know, in the old traditions, life was much different. Families tended to their lives where, for example, young ones learned from the elders directly.  I grew up with statements like “you must eat soup in winter everyday no matter what!” And we grew up without television! This gives me such gratitude for my mother for raising us in these rhythmical ways.

I am so happy to have my own school (The Village PreSchool) and Parent Child classes at SCWS where I can keep the beauty, truth and real work alive in everyday life!


HVB: How has Waldorf education supported your children in their lives?

GP: I have four children. The oldest one is nineteen and he is very clear, loves art and is happy he was a Waldorf student. He remembers looking forward to school every day, especially the play. Going from our small school to public high school, he was aware of the differences that was about to take place, yet he was ready and prepared! He is such a responsible young person who can speak his mind and articulate his needs.

My daughter has created her own path and will attend the Waldorf High School boarding school, High Mowing, which is across the country in New Hampshire! She loves this education so much that she wanted to continue her journey by attending a Waldorf High school.

Waldorf Education cultivates such a strong foundation for all children, who are all different and unique in their own ways. If you look at all the research now, many schools are are now implementing what we already do, like increasing play time or recess and knowing how crucial movement is for kids.


HVB: How do you feel that the Parent-Child class supports families?

GP: The parents see how to build healthy habits and have the space to learn who they are as a parent. There is an opportunity to experience parenting without technology.  I would like parents to see how important play is for their children’s development. Overall it’s a gentle class with a strong rhythm and ample play time. We have supportive conversations between myself and other parents. I will also guide parents to learn how to observe their child and bring space and trust into parenting. And, we will always play music, sing and have moments of discovery together!


Griselda Pineda has a college degree in Early Childhood Education from Cabrillo College.  Having grown up in Mexico, Griselda is bilingual and assists Spanish language programs at the Santa Cruz Waldorf School. She has been involved in Waldorf Education for more than 20 years and has her training in Waldorf Teaching from the Bay Area Center for Waldorf Teacher Training program. Currently, she is teaching the Parent-Child Class at the Waldorf School. She has experience working for community programs on understanding children’s emotions and behavior, including Hand in Hand. She was part of creating a truly beautiful bilingual community at the Village Preschool and she has spread her wisdom and inspiration to the greater community of Santa Cruz and on. She is the mother of four children and she loves gardening, cooking and dancing.




From A Parent:
“Warm, nurturing, community”
by Elisabeth Bentz


HVB: How did you come to find Waldorf education?

EB: I was living in Ashland, Oregon when my oldest son was born and a lot of the moms I was becoming friends with were those who were inspired by Waldorf parenting. I’m a visual person and initially it was the natural toys, crafts and warm soft colors that drew me in. Once I learned more about the philosophy, I realized so many parts of Waldorf education aligned with my values and instincts.


HVB: What has the experience been like for you and your child while attending this class?

EB: I feel really fortunate that I was already tuned into the community at SCWS when my younger son was born. We were able to attend 4 sessions of the Parent Child classes with Jeanne. There is something really sweet about seeing your child grow through a program, starting as the youngest and finishing as one of the oldest.

Having a special weekly activity for just the two of us was important and we both looked forward to it. I think the consistency of the program was really helpful for getting us out the door in the mornings. We knew exactly what we were showing up for and excited to engage with the activities.


HVB:Which activities of the class spoke to you and why?  

EB: I feel like the pace of class made all of the activities enjoyable. The balance of active moments followed by quieter times was something I really appreciated. Also, there is something pretty amazing about Clean Up Time when you see all of the parents and toddlers singing and putting everything away!


HVB: What have you implemented into your parenting and in your home?

EB: There are many big and little things from class that influence home life but the first that comes to mind is using songs to help with transitions. It’s so useful!


HVB: Would you recommend this class and why?

EB: I think a couple things make this program really special. There is an effort to nurture the parent as well as the child which I think is rare yet so critical during this intensive phase of parenting. I also really appreciate what a thoughtful and gentle introduction to social interactions and school this program provides.


Click Here to register for Parent-Child Classes




Phone: (831) 824-2161
Address: 2190 Empire Grade
Santa Cruz, CA 95060
Location: Next to UCSC,
10 minutes from downtown
Aftercare: After 1PM, Aftercare can be reached at (831) 425-0346
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